I'm not a fan of justice. That makes me sound amoral and seems to set me at odds with the Jesus I call Savior, but, I submit to you that Jesus was not a trumpeter of justice either. In fact, I think justice reigns in hell.
He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. Micah 6:8
I think we have a problem here.
Do you remember the parable of the unforgiving servant? An indebted servant was brought to his king to pay his debt. Fully unable to redeem himself, the king ordered the servant to be sold along with his wife and family. The servant groveled before his master, begging to be given one more chance. "Please, please be patient and I will pay you back every single penny."
How the servant must have staggered at the king’s response. I imagine that he had to be helped up off the ground, so astounded was he by the mercy extended toward him. "I forgive you all your debt. You owe me nothing."
However, his good mood was short-lived when he came upon a fellow servant who owed him a meager amount. "You owe me!” he screamed. When the tables were flipped and the first servant was in a position of power, he demanded justice.
Consider this equation: Injustice = Justice
There's no solution. For the most part, society operates on a system of justice. Crimes deserve punishment. Debts require payment. There's a sense of getting even in justice. It's like a scale. If justice is meted out in equal measure to an injustice, then we are pleased. But do we really want to spend the rest of our lives struggling to balance the equation? Is it desirable to constantly be teetering back and forth between good and evil?
What we really long for is to come to a full balance of justice. We would love to land fully on the side of justice such that our fears of being offended, or of being the victim of injustice are never realized. What can we apply to injustice to equal justice?
Injustice + Mercy = Justice
The cross of Christ was God's ultimate display of injustice and God's ultimate display of mercy. The consequence is justice, a justice turned on its head. The perfect man, Jesus Christ was unjustly punished for man's offenses toward God. The only justice that God could give man, prior to the cross, was hell. And so, God applied mercy to our sins. In one fell blow, God applied injustice and mercy to mankind. Now, we live in the shadow of justice. God has been paid in full for all our sins. Like the first servant in the story, man has been redeemed from his debt in a cosmic display of mercy.
“He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” Micah 6:8
Justice has been turned on its head. God's expression of mercy changes what justice is for us. It is now Just for us to show Mercy, for that is what was shown toward us. However, in our world, this kind of mercy leaves Christians looking like a doormat. We can only let this mercy alter our understanding of justice as we walk in humility. We must walk humbly with our God who teaches us mercy.